Information flows into, within and out of organizations faster and in greater volumes than ever before. Complicating matters is the growing number of vendor systems, applications and platforms that make up your company’s business infrastructure and touch even your most sensitive and mission-critical information.
If you don’t have visibility into the data and files that are flowing between systems, applications and people — both inside and beyond the company firewall — things can go haywire very quickly.
- Lost files, security breaches and compliance violations
- Broken SLAs and other processes that are dependent on files
- No file lifecycle tracking as data flows between applications, systems and people
- Damaged partner and customer relationships
- Lost opportunities
Relying on the reporting capabilities of each individual system has proven to be risky and inefficient. Chances are, you’re swimming in a sea of not-very-useful-or-actionable data and static reports that are already a week behind with what’s actually happening in your company this very instant.
In today’s blog video, Frank Kenney shares his thoughts why having one consolidated view is critical and why organizations are having such a hard time achieving visibility.
When it comes to your file transfers, many questions exist. Do you have the total visibility your business requires? How do your customers gain visibility into their file transfers?? Do you have all the information you need to meet your service level agreements (SLAs) as well as enabling transparency about integration and file transfers??? Let Ipswitch help you answer these questions and overcome your visibility challenges.
You’re going to be hearing more and more about “VISIBILITY” from Ipswitch, so I’d like to quickly start this blog post with our definition of visibility in the context of files and data flowing into, within and out of your company:
Visibility: “Unobstructed vision into all data interactions, including files, events, people, policies and processes”
Fast, easy access to critical file and data transfer information is a must-have – it’s critical to the success of your business. Whether it’s tracking and reporting on SLAs, analyzing file transfer metrics to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency, or providing customers and partners with easy self-service access to the file transfer information they require – as well as countless other business objectives – unobstructed visibility is imperative.
Having one consolidated view into all of the systems and processes involved in your organizations file and data transfers will deliver tremendous business value and a competitive edge. Please do take a couple of minutes to watch Ipswitch’s Frank Kenney share his perspective on why visibility is important.
This morning I was asked if I recommended using transport encryption or file encryption to protect company files and data.
My answer: “Use both of them, together!”
For starters, here’s a real quick summary of both encryption types:
- Transport encryption (“data-in-transit”) protects the file as it travels over protocols such as FTPS (SSL), SFTP (SSH) and HTTPS. Leading solutions use encryption strengths up to 256-bit.
- File encryption (“data-at-rest”) encrypts an individual file so that if it ever ended up in someone else’s possession, they couldn’t open it or see the contents. PGP is commonly used to encrypt files.
I believe that using both together provides a double-layer of protection. The transport protects the files as they are moving…. And the PGP protects the file itself, especially important after it’s been moved and is sitting on a server, laptop, USB drive, smartphone or anywhere else.
Here’s an analogy: Think of transport encryption as an armored truck that’s transporting money from say a retail store to a bank. 99.999% of the time that armored Brinks truck will securely transport your delivery without any incident. But adding a second layer of protection – say you put the money in a safe before putting it in the truck – reduces the chance of compromise exponentially, both during and after transport.
One last piece of advice: Ensure that your organization has stopped using the FTP protocol for transferring any type of confidential, private or sensitive information. Although it’s an amazing accomplishment that FTP is still functional after 40 years, please please please realize that FTP is does not provide any encryption or guaranteed delivery – not to mention that tactically deployed FTP servers scattered throughout your organization lack the visibility, management and enforcement capabilities that modern Managed File Transfer solutions deploy.
“My company still relies heavily on FTP. I know we should be using something more secure, but I don’t know where to begin.”
The easy answer is that you should migrate away from antiquated FTP software because it could be putting your company’s data at risk – Unsecured data is obviously an enormous liability. Not only does FTP pose a real security threat, but it also lacks many of the management and enforcement capabilities that modern Managed File Transfer solutions offer.
No, it won’t be as daunting of a task as you think. Here’s a few steps to help you get started:
- Identify the various tools that are being used to transfer information in, out, and around your organization. This would include not only all the one-off FTP instances, but also email attachments, file sharing websites, smartphones, EDI, etc. Chances are, you’ll be surprised to learn some of the methods employees are using to share and move files and data.
- Map out existing processes for file and data interactions. Include person-to-person, person-to-server, business-to-business and system-to-system scenarios. Make sure you really understand the business processes that consume and rely on data.
- Take inventory of the places where files live. Servers, employee computers, network directories, SharePoint, ordering systems, CRM software, etc. After all, it’s harder to protect information that you don’t even know exists.
- Think about how much your company depends on the secure and reliable transfer of files and data. What would the effects be of a data breach? How much does revenue or profitability depend on the underlying business process and the data that feeds them?
- Determine who has access to sensitive company information. Then think about who really needs access (and who doesn’t) to the various types of information. If you’re not already controlling access to company information, it should be part of your near-term plan. Not everybody in your company should have access to everything.
Modern managed file transfer solutions deliver not only the security you know your business requires, but also the ability to better govern and control you data…. As well as provide you with visibility and auditing capabilities into all of your organizations data interactions, including files, events, people, policies and processes.
Hey SEC, it’s Frank Kenney at Ipswitch. I don’t mean to rock the boat but I had a few quick questions regarding your recent announcement that you are requiring companies to notify their customers of a breach or risk of breach.
- What’s a “breach”? Does it mean the bad guys came in and took the data? Or maybe the data was left unencrypted? Or perhaps an executive lost his or her BlackBerry? Wikipedia talks about breaches of confidence, breaches of contract and breaches of faith. Is it all or none of the above?
- What does “notify” mean? Email? Snail mail? SMS? Press release? Facebook status update? Tweet? We just don’t know. And when do they need to send that out? When it happens (or it happened?) When it was discovered? When it was fixed? This is key and I say this because the breaches that happened were reported months after they actually happened. So when?
- And by “customers”, do you mean people who pay for my services? What if my services are free like social networks? Does free = exempt? What if I give you my email and contact info, does that make me a customer?
- What in the world is “risk of breach” and why shouldn’t I just fix it instead of telling my customers?
If you don’t mind I’d like to give the public in general my 2 cents…
The real story is this: we should all take these breaches seriously because at some point they will impact us individually. We must make it crystal clear to our service providers, our Internet providers and in some cases our employers that there needs to be policies and enforcement around the proper use and retention of our private information. We must also make clear that these same providers must put processes in place to better communicate and resolve any future data breaches. In much the same way we now see consumers making purchase decisions based on the carbon footprint of their suppliers/providers, the same approach will be taken when it comes to private confidential information. We at Ipswitch believe putting a secure managed file transfer solution in place will allow these suppliers to stem breaches by giving them visibility into how data is being accessed and for what purpose BEFORE these breaches happen.